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Purdue vs Minnesota Big 10 Football Matchup
Gophers Favored by 3
Not much has gone the way that the Purdue Boilermakers envisioned it would go this season. They are 1-4 with their lone win coming against an overmatched Toledo team. To be honest the one bright spot was that Purdue should have beat Notre Dame if it wasn’t for a questionable timeout called. The problem with that is when your lone bright spot is still a loss you know things aren’t going well. The good news for Boilermaker fans is it’s not as bad as it seems. Purdue is 1-4 but all of their losses have been by a touchdown or less, so that just tells me that lady luck has not been on their side.
They only lost to a very good Oregon team by 2 on the road, and like we mentioned, they had the Irish beat. This season has turned into a rebuilding year, and if Danny Hope wants to get things turned around for years to come he needs to start winning some ballgames, and Minnesota gives them an opportunity to get back in rhythm. The Golden Gophers are 3-2 on the year and still have a lot to prove. Their two losses came against an undefeated Wisconsin team, and a very talented California team. Their wins were all against teams that they should have beat, so the jury is still out on this Minnesota team. They need to take care of business when they are suppose to win, so they need to beat Purdue and do it with some ease to prove to the rest of the Big 10 that they are a team on the rise.
PURDUE’S KEY TO VICTORY
If Purdue is going to get the job done it is going to need its offense to continue to put up the same statistics it has all year. Thru 5 games Elliot has thrown for over 1200 yards and 10 TDs. No one else has been able to keep Elliot from putting up numbers so I expect him to do well. The key factor for the Boilermakers in this game is going to be their RB Ralph Bolden. As the season has gone on he has tailed off and so has this Purdue team. In their opener against Toledo he rushed for 234 yards and 2 TDs with just 21 carries. He followed that up with a 123 yards 2 TDs on 29 carries against Oregon. In his next three games he rushed for just 184 yards and was kept out of the end zone in all 3 games. Purdue’s offensive line has got to win the battle in the trenches and open up some holes for Bolden. Minnesota is last in the Big 10 in rush defense so Bolden should have every opportunity to produce. If they are able to do that and control time of possession and if QB Joey Elliot continues to produce, which I expect he will, then Purdue will have a great chance to get their 2nd win on the season.
MINNESOTA’S KEY TO VICTORY
Minnesota’s key to victory is very similar to Purdue’s. They need to stop RB Ralph Bolden and the Purdue ground game. Minnesota needs to make sure that Bolden has one of his 50 yard games and not one of his 150 yard games. If they are able to make Purdue become one dimensional that plays well into Minnesota’s strength on defense which is pass coverage. Minnesota is 4th in the Big 10 in pass defense allowing just over 200 yards a game. Hopefully if they are able to do this they can drop more players back into coverage and try to get Purdue’s QB Joey Elliot to make a few mistakes. Also in Minnesota’s case they have a 1B key to victory. Their other key is getting the ball in Eric Decker’s hands. Eric Decker already has 43 receptions on the year for 639 yards and 5 TDs. He is averaging 128 yards receiving per game and averages 9 receptions per ball game. Minnesota needs to get the ball in his hands early and often because he is a homerun threat from anywhere on the field.
THE FINAL VERDICT
I expect to see a very hard fought ballgame this Saturday. Purdue is a much better football team then they have showed so far this year. All of their losses have been by a TD or less, and QB Joey Elliot has the ability to keep them in almost any ballgame. If they can get RB Ralph Bolden going again and take some pressure off Elliot I see things going well for Purdue. On the flip side if Minnesota is able to stop the run and drop more players back into coverage they should be able to slow down Purdue’s QB Joey Elliot, and I expect them to give Eric Decker the ball early and often. The more he touches the ball the better chance they will have to win this game. Purdue +3
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